Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Eriophorum virgincum L.
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: August-October
- Field Marks: The distinguishing features of this sedge are the densely woolly crowded
spikelets that appear as brownish "cotton balls" subtended by 2-5 bracts, the flat leaves up to
1/6 inch wide, and the scales of the spikelets with several nerves.
- Habitat: Bogs, wet meadows.
- Habit: Tufted perennial herb with fibrous roots.
- Stems: Upright, slender, smooth, up to 4 feet tall.
- Leaves: Elongated, flat except at the tip, smooth, up to 1/6 inch wide.
- Flowers: Borne in spikelets, with many spikelets crowded into dense brownish "cotton
balls" up to 2 1/2 inches across, the clusters subtended by 2-5 leaf-like bracts, each spikelet
ellipsoid, up to 1/2 inch long; scales several-nerved.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 1.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; styles 3-cleft.
- Fruits: Achenes triangular, up to 1/6 inch long, subtended by many white or tawny bristles
much longer than the achenes.
- Notes: The achenes are eaten by waterfowl.
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